For some reason it took ages to count the votes, but there we have it. As expected, Labour candidate Sadiq Khan is London’s new mayor after a landslide victory over Tory Zac Goldsmith, and a bunch of idiots from Britain’s very own version of the First Order (UKIP, Britain First, BNP, etc.)
Khan earned a remarkable estimated 1.3m votes, to his closest rival’s 900,000. What does this say about us, and what are the implications for our beloved city?
We may be a bunch of grumpy cynics whose political outlook is primarily shaped by the Metro newspaper, but it’s not stopping us filling ballot. Londoners turned up en masse to vote, with the 45% participation rate a remarkable one for a city of this size, which homes a huge electorate of 5.7m voters.
Khan’s victory is not just clear cut, it’s technically the largest personal mandate of any politician in UK history. So yes, basically we care.
Slap to extremism
This is 2016, and the fact that Khan is London’s first Muslim mayor should not matter really. But in the current political climate, there is no point denying that it does.
In a time when Islamic extremism and xenophobic tribalism compete for the world’s seemingly endless pool of simpletons (with the latter group even pushing for the White House), the results are a slap in the face of all extremists.
To the daily ISIS newsflashes, calls that Muslims have no place in the Western world and Goldsmith’s distasteful (to put it kindly) campaign strategy, the city’s answer has been a silent but firm no. While scaremongering may work in less diverse parts of the UK, London is at the forefront of a globalised world characterised by plurality. We just don’t care about politician’s faith, and it’s just as well.
Beyond the symbolic nomination, it will be interesting to see whether Khan’s fresh ideas can help tackle London’s big problems, and the housing crisis in particular. The average London house price is currently 524k – if you’re reading this late, it’s probably more already. That is 15 times the city’s average 34k salary.
Khan has pledged to make 50% of all new homes “genuinely affordable”, a huge proportion. He’s also promised real residents first dibs. His response to projects failing to meet the criteria will say a lot about his ability as a mayor, and credibility as a politician.
The Labour man also pledged to freeze transport fares for 4 years, while maintaining a TFL investment. Despite the government’s planned £700m cuts, Khan also promised to introduce a one-hour bus ticket, and argues less bureaucracy and increased efficiency will help funding. Which sounds like more than the unions need to justify a strike, so good luck buddy!
Finally, Khan said he will tackle London’s dreadful air pollution record. He’s already vowed to prioritise new, cleaner buses on the most polluted roads, expand the ultra-low emission zone and plant 2 million more trees. He’ll also want to clean up Oxford Street, and ban fracking in Greater London.
Anyway congratulations Mr Khan. Now let’s see what ya got!